A clearly upset Steve Evans could do little but praise his players, despite this afternoon’s 2-0 home defeat by Plymouth Argyle.
Stags created, but wasted a host of chances in a stirring display that Evans felt was one of the club’s best in years.
But they were stung by two goals in five minutes from the title-chasers.
“I feel sorry for my players,” he said. “There was only one team playing proper football on the pitch and one team making all the chances.
“Then our centre backs don’t pick up from a set play, so they take advantage of that, which is what good teams do.
“But the second goal is one worthy of winning any game at any level and the boy can do that, he’s done it many times. It was a piece of quality from a top player at this level.
“Our inability to take a chance today, same as Yeovil, is proving costly.
“It was so one-sided. We played at an intensity with our passing and moving and opened them up time and time again.”
Plymouth defender Jakub Sokolik got away with a cynical challenge that halted CK Hamilton as he tried to break into the box at 0-0.
“They should have had a red card but the referee decided not to. That is his prerogative,” said Evans.
“He will make excuses about covering but there is no one covering – he is through into the box, so it’s a red card.”
Plymouth remain second and Evans said: “If that’s the benchmark going forward to get out the league then we are heading in the right direction as it’s not that high.
“There is not a Mansfield fan can say we’ve not played well today. If they did I will say you haven’t a clue. We’ve been outstanding in spells today.
“We’ve lost to switching off from a set play and a super free kick. I don’t think Scott Shearer made a save.”
It was a third game without a goal for Mansfield after the 0-0 draws at Yeovil and Cheltenham and Evans added: “This is the first time I am going home feeling down. I saw this as a big fixture for us today.
“People can say what they like but we absolutely annihilated Yeovil second half.
“You miss five or six golden chances then you miss seven or eight in the first half today and two or three golden chances at Cheltenham when we are battling near the end on a pitch that shouldn’t be in the Football League. It tell you where the problem is.”